The Front Bottoms-Going Grey

The Front Bottoms were at one time leading figures in the emo-revival.  A weird pop-punk band from New Jersey that let indie rock and folk influences bleed through.  They had lyrics that masked emotion through humor and wits.  Also, they were huge.  They could book their own festival at New York’s Webster Hall with their friends and favorite bands and sell it out.  They toured with emo-vets Brand New on numerous occasions and wrote one of the decades’ best songs about life on the roadBack On Top was a major creative leap for the band, adding much more electric instrumentation than before, and it paid off.  The best songs off Back On Top could square off with any number of songs from their self-titled album or Talon of Hawk.  Unfortunately, Going Grey shows them doing just that: greying into a mediocre band. Continue reading

Go Ahead and Walk Away: Modern Baseball-Union Transfer, 10/14/17

Even though Modern Baseball made a name for themselves with raw, uncomfortably honest, yet catchy pop-punk, they’ve always been goofy guys.  Watch any interview the quartet provides with each other, and they’re always messing around.  This screw-around attitude does not draw a line in their interviews.  They’ve never been shy about messing around onstage and cracking jokes.  Despite some dark times and no-bullshit relatable lyrics, it’s no surprise that the band’s penultimate “last show for the foreseeable future” show at Union Transfer on October 13 was not some gut-wrenching sobfest.  It was a night of strong emotional performances and a good handful of laughs to be had. Continue reading

The Wonder Years-Burst & Decay

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Acoustic albums and EPs are often a cheap attempt to cater to fans when there’s a significant amount of time between album releases.  Assuming its coming out next year, The Wonder Years’ forthcoming LP will mark the longest number of years in between two albums.  Their most recent release Burst & Decay could have been just a quick EP to knock off to make a quick buck and satiate fans with the type of stripped down performance that they’ve previously done in record stores and a few Christmas shows.  Still, The Wonder Years maintain that they’re a band dedicated to giving their all for everything they do, and Burst & Decay is the rare example of an essential acoustic release. Continue reading

Phoebe Bridgers-Stranger in the Alps

It would have been really simple to write off Phoebe Bridger’s debut album as a Julien Baker clone.  Both singer-songwriters write ambient folk rock with a large emotional weight placed on the lyrics.  Still, Bridgers’ voice is a refreshing one that really resonates within the pop-punk and emo community.  Even though she is a singer-songwriter through and through, her heart-on-her-sleeve and pop culture referencing lyrics certainly welcome her to a number of melancholy artists that have welcomed the likes of Julien Baker.  Whether it’s the sweetness of “Killer” or the sadness in “Smoke Signals,” Stranger in the Alps is probably the most exciting debut album to be released this year. Continue reading

The Killers-Wonderful Wonderful

“Run For Cover” could have been the song of the summer.  It’s upbeat, fun and has a great chorus.  In fact, a number of songs from The Killers’ new Wonderful Wonderful scream summer.  Whether it’s adrenaline-thrusting power-pop (see above) or the beachy, U2 doppelgangers (“Life to Come”), it baffles me why this album would be released on the first day of fall, but as fate would have it, the first weekend of fall were the dog-days of summer’s last gasp in New York.  It was a fluke, only Brandon Flowers could attain to maybe make some final gasps for this Killers album. Continue reading

Green Day: XFINITY Theatre (Hartford, CT 8/29/17)

Green-Day-Hartford           Even though, Green Day shows have become largely repetitive, there is still something to be said about standing in the pit at one.  Energy radiates off the stage.  Even wearing earplugs, standing close enough to hear the explosions from the pyrotechnics hurt your ears is incredible.  Despite all three core members being in their mid-40’s, they perform with the same youthful energy rivaling so many of their much younger peers. Continue reading

LCD Soundsystem-American Dream

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More often than not, when I don’t like something that I know is good (or everyone else likes), I tend to just say, “It wasn’t for me.”  That is to say, I wasn’t the target-demographic.  I said this about the Beauty and the Beast remake, Twenty-One Pilots, Serial, and countless other things that I didn’t really like.  I didn’t begin listening to LCD Soundsystem until after they’d broken up, and I was excited to see them reunite.  While I understand why fans were angry about their reunion, I could care less to be honest.  That being said, American Dream doesn’t seem like it was for me.  It seems catered to a certain subsect of fans that probably don’t mind that LCD reunited as opposed to feeling more indifferent about it.  Still, even if it wasn’t for me, American Dream is an incredible album that I thoroughly enjoy. Continue reading

Gaga, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down (Citi Field, Queens, NY 8/28/17)

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I’d only ever flirted with the idea of seeing a major pop-star live.  I like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Justin Timberlake enough to think about going to their shows.  I’ve seen Kanye on the Saint Pablo tour, but he’s a rapper.  I’ve seen Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco at major arena tours, while they’re still mostly relevant, but both are still (mostly) considered rock bands.  Lady Gaga was like my first kiss, kind of great-kind of awkward and underwhelming. Continue reading

Brand New-Science Fiction

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If the rumors are true, this will be Brand New’s final album.  It’s not a sad last gasp for breath nor is it a number of recycled demos and singles that the band’s fans have heard a fair amount in recent years.  There’s nothing wrong with “Mene”, “I Am A Nightmare”, or the 3 Demos, Reworked EP, and it would have been fully acceptable to stick those songs on Science Fiction.  Still, Brand New revealed they had one final trick up their sleeves, and that results in the band’s perfect, catatonic, terrifying, heavy farewell album.

Science Fiction succeeds in every category beginning from its bizarre rollout: announcement of limited vinyl, website crash, strange packages, unexpected announcement and release two days later.  Brand New is to alternative rock, what Beyoncé is to pop, and a shock and surprise release is exactly what this album deserved.  Science Fiction needs to be appreciated in one sitting of hearing the album straight through.

There are more classic rock tropes on this album than before, from the extended songs, shredding solos, and excessive use of acoustic guitar.  Still, this album reaches new sonic experiments that Brand New haven’t touched yet.  It has tracks like “451” and “Desert” that show a major blues-influence, the former sounding like a Black Keys song.  They play with texture a lot, where a bunch of the album sounds like it was recorded in an abandoned estate.  It’s the best produced album in their discography, where even a song like “Desert,” which has the coldest lyrics still sounds incredibly warm.  Even in the albums most depressing moments, it still welcomes the listener into its depths.

Still, what has truly made Brand New most notable have always been their lyrics.  Jesse Lacey touches down on a number of old themes-religion, grief and depression, unlikable characters-as well as a few new ones, mainly the sci-fi that the title implies.  The closing track “Batter Up” hints at themes of extraterrestrial life, and the spoken interludes almost sound like they were nicked from Creepypastas, but they do set a certain chilling atmosphere throughout the album.  “Lit Me Up” opens the album with dark arpeggios in a chilling atmosphere, with Lacey’s haunting tone, but Lacey does manage to expand these into much bigger ideas.

Religion is still a major force in Lacey’s lyrics.  It’s evident from the beginning although it seems like he’s mostly turned his back on a bunch of his Christian faith.  On “Lit Me Up,” Lacey sings, “When I grow up, I want to be a heretic” to “It lit me up, and I burned from the inside out/Yeah, I burned like a witch in a Puritan town.”  “Desert” sees Lacey taking on a character that uses religious rhetoric to spew hateful views, and with a release coming not even a week after the violence in Charlottesville, it’s one of the most chilling takes on the album.  “Desert” and “137” are two of the more politically charged anthems of the album, with “137” leading to a chorus of:

Let’s all go play Nagasaki

We Can all get vaporized

Hold my hand, let’s turn to ash.

I’ll see you on the otherside.

“137” also contains allusions to Christian-faith.

Still, mental health is probably the biggest thing on Jesse Lacey’s mind throughout Science Fiction.  In the ultra-catchy “Can’t Get It Out,” the song’s final refrain goes

I’m just a manic depressive

Toting around my own crown.

I’ve got a positive message

Sometimes, I can’t get it out.

“Could Never Be Heaven” is actually a really sweet love song with mental illness as a theme, where Lacey sings about his love of his wife and family and how they help him cope with his depression.  “Out of Mana” seems to recount therapy sessions, beginning with “Write down all of your fears.”  Fittingly, the closing “Batter Up” is a somber take about the infinity of living with depression, and outer-space is a nice touch to illustrate it.

If this is Brand New’s last hurrah, it’s a damn-good one.  There is a part of me that really hopes that the title Science Fiction means they have one last trick up their sleeve, whether it’s one more album or a psyche-out retirement.  Still, I’ll take Science Fiction.  It’s a safe good-bye.

Sidney Gish on Songwriting, Ed Buys Houses, Local Music and More

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via Bandcamp

Singer-songwriter Sidney Gish has slowly been building her presence in the Boston music scene since the release of her debut album, Ed Buys Houses.  Still, Gish has been prolific in her short career, releasing large amounts of material in a short time via Soundcloud and Bandcamp, while studying the music industry at Northeastern University.  Her songs are often catchy and silly, but incredibly well-crafted, especially when you realize that Gish does everything herself.  We got a chance to speak to her shortly after the release of Camino ‘84’s new single, “Sounds Fake But Ok,” which she’s featured on.

 

BAD: What is it like collaborating with a different artist where most of your other work is solo? Continue reading